The last couple of months have been tough on everyone. Our children have been sent home from school. Many have lost a job or been furloughed, or worse, have lost a friend or loved one to COVID-19. The world as we know it has been quickly and abruptly turned on its head.
Now, we can begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Thankfully, new cases of COVID-19 and related hospitalizations have been on a plateau over the past 30 days, and the launch of our “new normal” life has started with the slow re-opening of parks, marinas, and golf courses. The re-opening of non-essential businesses is also on the horizon.
Mayor Gimenez has wisely assembled a cross section of community leaders and healthcare experts to help him develop recommendations and regulations for restarting the economy. That expertise will be as important as having a robust testing and trace contact system in place to make sure any spike in new cases can be controlled once we begin to move forward.
If done properly and cohesively, those regulations will undoubtedly help prevent the spread of corona virus, but we must all recognize that regulations and testing can only go so far when it comes to keeping people safe and bringing back our economy. Regardless of the specific rules for re-opening restaurants, hotels, retail shops, offices and other non-essential businesses, a successful re-opening will depend much more on each of us.
Simply put, it will be up to each of us to take on the personal responsibility of protecting ourselves and our community if the re-opening of Miami-Dade is going to be safe and successful.
The good news is that we can do this, because we already have! We all know that many people are already beginning to socialize with family and close friends and are doing so while keeping a safe distance. You only have to look at the hundreds of construction sites, grocery stores and home depots that have remained open across our community to see that when people take it upon themselves to practice social distancing and safe hygiene, it works!
The following guidelines are nothing new or groundbreaking, but they are the things that will matter most if we all take ownership of following them, regardless of how and when rules come forth for re-opening, or when robust testing and contact tracing is put in place.
If you are going to a location with a lot of people, whether that be a grocery store, the mall or a restaurant, you should err on the side of caution by wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance from others and sanitizing your hands as much as possible. This is even more critical if you need to use the public transportation system.
Workers in dense places or who are working in close quarters should also wear a mask. Those businesses should also set the example by implementing and enforcing the necessary safe hygiene measures in the workplace.
If you have an underlying condition, such as heart disease, diabetes or an immune system disorder, or you are over the age of 60, you should continue to practice being “safer at home,” and make plans to work remotely, if you can. Certainly, you should not be going to places with large gatherings of people where you would be more at risk.
If you exhibit any viral or unusual symptoms associated with COVID-19 or the common flu, you shouldn’t be going anywhere other than to your doctor, urgent care or the hospital.
For non-essential businesses, consistent with Governor DeSantis’ guidelines, you should continue to work remotely and bring employees physically back to work on an as-needed basis and in phases. Most offices have been operating remotely for the past two months, anyway. And we all know it is going to be a big part of “the new workplace” as we move forward.
The prospect of the “new normal” brings a great deal of anxiety to the air that is propelled by the uncertainty ahead. But let’s not forget that we have been tested as a community time and time again, and we have risen to the occasion each and every time.
Whether it was recovering from Hurricane Andrew and countless other hurricanes, or coming back from the Great Recession, we have always faced new challenges and demonstrated that we can adjust by taking the lessons from our adversities and coming back even stronger. I believe in Miami-Dade and am confident it will be no different this time, as long as we all take responsibility and do our part to keep ourselves safe. There is no question that the future health of our community and our economy depends on us!